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The skeleton of a rarely seen deep water whale that washed up on Fishers Island in late February will be added to the research collection at the New York State Museum in Albany later this year, according to a spokeswoman for the museum.
When a team arrived on Fishers Island Saturday to perform a necropsy on the Cuvier’s beaked whale, said Janelle Schuh, stranding coordinator of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, the carcass was badly decomposed, making it difficult to determine the whale’s cause of death.
They discovered several broken ribs and a broken portion of the jaw, said Schuh, although the team is unsure whether they were broken before the whale’s death. The whale was an adult male, 18.5 feet long and an estimated 3,800 pounds, with a skull that weighed 125 pounds, according to Constantine Macris, who was present during the necropsy.
The team performing the necropsy and collecting the whale’s bones had to use an excavator to turn the carcass over, he said. Macris is a co-founder of Coastal Environmental Services, a nonprofit organization that operates pumpout boats that dispose of sewage from other vessels free of charge.
CES worked with the Mystic Aquarium, Noank Shipyard and the Fisher’s Island Conservancy during the necropsy. Macris said members of the Mystic Aquarium Stranding Response Team were joined by experts from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The bones will be cleaned, sterilized and bleached in Massachusetts before being sent to Albany, said Macris.